Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Valuing volunteers for in-kind contributions: how to figure out $ values for volunteer hours when you’re not a maths nerd.

Kate2Author: Kate Sunners

The grants research team has spent a lot of time recently entering Council grants from around Australia and New Zealand into our GEM Portal.

One thing that most Council grants have in common is that they require from the applicant a cash or in-kind contribution, and that many of them only fund organisations and projects with broad community support.

Luckily your volunteer base is a big tick towards the ‘in-kind’ and ‘broad community support’ boxes.

Allocating a dollar value is a necessity when calculating your organisation’s in-kind contribution to a project, and indeed, as ABS calculations in 2006 showed it was worth about 42-59% of GDP, it is something which we definitely should understand how to value!

This is why it should be part of your strategic plan to keep a track of your organisations volunteer input.

There are a lot of different statistics on how to value volunteer hours, most calculated from data created by the ABS in 2006.  This has been used to calculate volunteer wages since:









(Economic Value of Volunteering in SA, 2011)

These days, depending on the formula used to calculate increases in average earnings over time, there are as many figures per hour as there are organisations!  

Many councils specify their own dollar value on volunteer labour, which is usually in the range of $20 to $25 an hour. Should you be applying for a grant which specifies volunteer value, your work is done for you!

However if not, it might be useful to calculate the value per hour yourself. Here’s an example: 



Using the above table:

Average Weekly Wages at 2015 - wages at 2010 = Average Weekly Wage increase over time

$1128.7  -  $997.5  = $131.2

$131.2 as % of 997.5 = 13.1% (Wage increase between 2010 and 2015).

Volunteer Wage at 2015 = Wage at 2010 ($27.45) + 13.1% = $31.05

The Institute of Community Directors Australia calculated a similar hourly value of $31.50 in 2013, but recommend using a rate closer to the market hourly rate for professionals (lawyers, tradespeople etc).

However you reach your conclusions on what your volunteers are worth, you need to have a sound logic behind it and be able to show it in your grant application. It doesn’t have to be highly detailed.

For example for the above calculation, your grant application note should read something like this:

“Figure based on wage rates per hour as detailed in  Value of Volunteering in SA estimates from ABS data, with increases to account for average wage since 2010, as calculated from Trading Economics Australia Average Weekly Wages figures.”